NAPLES — In the past two years, Army Sgt. Haley Zimmerman has become a microwaving gourmet.

Living in the barracks at the Capodichino base of Naval Support Activity Naples, fire codes preclude residents from cooking with an open flame or burner — and that means no George Foreman personal grilling machines, no hot plates.

So when she learned base housing officials opened up a kitchen for barracks residents, she thought: “ehhh, I’ve made due this long without it,” and she doesn’t plan on greasing up any of the communal pots and pans available to residents.

When Navy officials closed the base chow hall at the end of September, barracks residents flooded managers with queries on where they would eat, especially in the evenings when some of the other on-base eateries were closed, said Petty Officer 1st Class Samir Hejab, the bachelor housing leading petty officer.

“A lot of people were having concerns of where to eat, and many of them are trying to eat healthy,” Hejab said. Burgers and fries every day weren’t going to cut it.

The Navy shut the “Ciao Hall” dining facility at Capodichino after officials determined too few sailors use it and costs to keep it running weren’t justified by the number of patrons. Housing officials had to find sailors a suitable alternative — which meant refurbishing an existing kitchen in one barracks building, and building a new kitchen in the second, Hejab said.

“The residents needed these spaces more now than ever as the only alternate for them to eat their meals are none other than [Navy Exchange/Morale Welfare and Recreation] sponsored food outlets, which are extremely costly and above their allowance,” said Romeo Rojo, bachelor housing director.

With the closing of the galley, all 326 sailors who live in Capodichino’s barracks started collecting commuted rations, better known as COMRATS — a $278 monthly subsidy. Divide the subsidy by 30 days, and that’s nearly $9.27 a day — for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Refurbishing and restoring the kitchenette in Bachelor Enlisted Quarters 1, which opened a week ago, cost about $15,000, Rojo said. Furnishing and equipment costs for the BEQ 2 kitchenette project, expected to open in a month or so, will run about $20,000.

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